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Building a friendship through a shared passion for the outdoors

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Posted at 3:50 PM, Jul 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-21 15:50:20-04

It’s been a bit since I’ve posted here. Truth is, I’ve had a couple irons in the fire so to speak. Nothing job related, just things that have taken up most of my free time.

One of those things is studying for and passing my Hunter’s Ed Safety Course, something we need in order to purchase a hunting license. Yes, I’ve made that move. It started last summer after some encouragement from my wife and our desire to be as self-sufficient as possible, my day with Bassmaster Elite Pro Casey Ashley, and conversations with our now former Good Morning Maryland anchor, Charley Crowson.

And this is where we get into the other thing that ate up a chunk of my time.

Charley and I worked together since he was hired here at WMAR back in November 2010. I would say we didn’t really become close friends till 2012 when we finally spent several months working together on the overnight shift. It was during that time we realized we had a shared passion for sports, the outdoors and perhaps more than anything else, history and the Constitution. We also realized that despite growing up in states separated by nearly 900 miles and the Mason-Dixon Line we had a lot of shared experiences. Discussions involving all those topics built a strong bond of friendship over the next three-plus years.

In April, Charley announced he would be leaving WMAR and heading back home to northwest Arkansas for all the right reasons. I knew I wanted to give him a “Going Away Gift”; not so much a “Goodbye & Good Luck” kinda thing, but a show of appreciation, something that said, “Thank you for your friendship, your honesty, your support.” Something that exemplified the bond we built over shared passions.

I decided to build him a custom fishing rod with an American theme. Getting the right pieces turned into a comedy of errors. Previously, I had built only one rod and that had come as a kit. I had exactly zero experience in ordering what I needed and it showed. I ordered the wrong reel seat, the wrong grips, the wrong color and type of thread (twice). It took me three, maybe four orders to Mudhole.com to get the components I wanted and still I got some of it wrong, the realization of which didn’t hit me till after completing the rod.

Over the course of four weeks from June into July, I mocked up the rod, tested it and then pieced it together. During the build I challenged myself to learn new techniques including two separate decorative wraps, the proper application of decals and how to inscribe a rod with a permanent marker.

I poured myself into building that rod, knowing it didn’t matter what I thought of it. It only mattered what the person receiving it would think of it.

Finally, last week my wife and I boxed the rod up and shipped it out. The rod finally arrived in Arkansas on Wednesday. Charley called me at work after opening it.

“Where did you find that rod?” were some of the first words out of his mouth.

“I didn’t. I built it.”

“You built it? That thing is awesome, it’s a work of art! I’m gonna have to take a few more looks at it to really take in all the detail.”

That’s all I needed to hear. Like us and like our friendship, I know that rod isn’t perfect… none of us are. But like us, there is more to that rod than what you see at first glance. It’s those details that build the bonds of friendship and that’s what’s important.

* Jeff Herman is the assistant news director at WMAR | ABC2. His main passion while not at work is fishing. This column is part of a series of columns he writes for our outdoors page . You can read more of his columns here . Follow him on Twitter@JeffABC2News   and @TightLinesABC2